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Taxis For All

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New York Daily News editorial
March 26, 2005

When the Taxi and Limousine Commission auctioned 300 yellow-cab medallions last fall and 27 were set aside for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, there was lots of official skepticism. No one would bid, said the scoffers. There is no appropriate type of vehicle, they cautioned. It would be impossible to get insurance, they warned.

They were way off base. Not only were there bids for 256 wheelchair-accessible taxis (nearly 10 times the available quota), but 27 new, modified minivans are now on the road, and all have insurance.

But wheelchair-bound customers still have great difficulty catching cabs. In a fleet of 12,787 yellow taxis, only 29 are properly equipped (the new 27 plus two older ones). That's 1 in 400, or .25%, an unacceptable tiny fraction for a public accommodation.

The TLC will sell 300 new medallions after July 1. All 300 must be reserved for wheelchair-accessible cabs. If the commission won't make that a requirement, the City Council has to. On top of that, the TLC or the Council must mandate that whenever any cab is retired, the replacement will be able to accommodate a wheelchair.

That could convert the whole fleet in a few years. Then, the chances of the wheelchair-bound hailing the hack they need would be 100%.

-- Joseph G. Rappaport

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